Plan to base car insurance costs on Facebook posts hits the rocks

Facebook blocks plans by insurer Admiral to analyse Facebook posts to help lower premiums

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Plans to analyse social media posts on Facebook to help set car insurance premiums by insurer Admiral Insurance have been blocked by the social media site. 

This week, Admiral was going to launch a new service called Firstcarquote which would allow the insurer to analyse the Facebook accounts of first-time car owners and identify personality traits that are linked to safe driving. The scheme, which was said to be voluntary to sign up for, would have offered discounts to drivers deemed responsible by Admiral's in-house algorithm. 

But Facebook has since blocked the efforts to launch the service on the basis that it violates the privacy of its users. It said: "Protecting the privacy of the people on Facebook is of utmost importance to us. We have clear guidelines that prevent information being obtained from Facebook from being used to make decisions about eligibility." 

• Cheapest cars to insure 2016

According to Admiral, users signed up to Firstcarquote would have their posts, not photos, analysed on Facebook by the insurer and responsible traits like using calendar apps to set specific times and places to meet friends and family would be rewarded with lower premiums. Admiral estimated first-time car owners, who pay on average £2,106 for car insurance, could save up to 15 per cent on their premiums via Firstcarquote. 

However, Facebook said it will allow people to use their accounts to log into the Admiral app for verification purposes, but not allow people to view posts for discounts: "Our understanding is that Admiral will then ask users who sign up to answer questions which will be used to access their eligibility." 

Dan Mines, head of Firstcarquote, insisted that the new scheme is not an invasion of personal data: “It is incredibly transparent. If you don’t want to use it in a quote then you don’t have to.”

Average car insurance premiums to pass £700 this year

Mines added: “People share their social data with third parties every day, without any financial benefit to themselves. Firstcarquote asks users to share their data only once and offers them a clear, tangible financial benefit in return.”

“I think the future is unknown. We don’t know if people are prepared to share their data. If we find people aren’t sharing their data, then we won’t ever get to consider that [expanding Firstquote].” 

Would you let your insurer to analyse your Facebook profile for a potentially lower premium? Tell us in the comments below...

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